Posted on: August 16, 2016 at 8:49 am
Last updated: September 27, 2017 at 3:14 pm

This amazing article was written by Christine Caplan, Certified Veterinary Technician and Founder of My Life With Dogs (PDX). I encourage you to check out her website!

My dogs are all short haired and bathing is hit or miss some months. Regardless how low maintenance our grooming routine ends up being each month, they all need a good bath! Anytime the pack heads over to the beach or hiking, Sherm is notorious for rolling in something disgusting. It’s inevitable and he sleeps in my bed which means a bath is not optional. One example, this weekend the minute we got out of the car to head down the path to the beach Sherm found a dead “critter” and literally threw himself onto it and started rolling. Gross!

Other reasons to bathe: Soothing irritated skin is another top reason the dogs get baths in our house.  Sherm has some allergies and a bath tends to help calm the itch.

I was taught that it’s not good to bathe your dog frequently – Whole Dog Journal wrote about why NOT to shampoo your dog all the time, “A good shampoo can bring relief, too, but keep in mind that “squeaky-clean” may not be what your dog needs. One of the biggest problems associated with frequent bathing is that many dog shampoos do their job too efficiently, cleansing the skin and coat of the waxy oils that are needed to maintain supple, healthy skin.”

Herbal Shampoos are the way to go. I don’t enjoy shampoos that lather a lot – in fact, I think shampoos should feel and have the consistency of a cream rinse. My main goal is for the lather to rinse out easily and quickly!


The ingredients I don’t like? Anything artificial, foaming boosters, petroleum products, sulfates, dyes, and perfumes. Grooming products for dogs should not have these ingredients in my book.

In a story Dogs Naturally Magazine published about shampoo, the ingredients to stay away from are, “Added dyes or colorants: synthetic color additives for cosmetics are linked to cancers and other serious health problems. Examples are D&C Blue No. 4, or D&C Yellow No. 8, CI 1940 (also called Tartrazine, which is strongly linked to allergic reactions, migraines, hyperactivity and even tumors). Many are made from coal tar which is recognized as a carcinogen. Avoid brightly colored liquids: natural colors in chemical free shampoos usually range from an opaque white to a light yellow.”

Ingredients That Are Worth Considering


Coconut oil and natural blends of herbs (lavender, lemongrass, and aloe vera) have many properties that help with itching and skin allergies.

I also look at the ingredients being used by brands I trust like Dr. Shawns and Honest Kitchen. Honest Kitchen makes a pet shampoo bar that I also like and just to name a few of the ingredients used that help with a number of skin issues including Apple Cider Vinegar, Goat’s Milk, Cocoa Butter, Comfrey, Rosemary, and Juniper.

A bath is not always the answer. If you need to quickly remove something sticky between digits on paws – try baby wipes. These are safe and easy to apply to sticky fur. I’ve personally used these when trying to remove tree sap from our dog’s paw pads.

Paw balms are also great products for hot spots, rashes, cuts and some allergic reactions – Eezapet is a soothing balm made from sesame oil, beeswax, angelica, cinnamon, figwort, peony, and rhubarb. I use this product on Bruiser if he gets a sort area where his harness rubs and when he gets interdigital cysts. These balms can be used and applied directly to your animal’s skin. Eezapet is 100% natural and is made with a high concentration of herbal actives making it an effective yet gentle solution for your pet’s skin.

When looking at labels what you look for? I think Dr. Shawn has the best advice and he keeps is simple.

Uses Organic Oils as Moisturizers – YES
Contains Unspecified Ingredients – NO
(“Natural” Cleansers etc.)
Safe for the Environment – YES
Specially formulated for Daily Use – YES

Bathing Tips

  • It’s ok to let the shampoo sit on their coat for 5 minutes to make sure the herbs and ingredients have a lot of time to soak in.
  • Avoid getting water directly in their ears, eyes or nose- some people use cotton balls but if you do add these, don’t forget to remove them!
  • Wash them neck to toe. This is what I was taught and I think it’s easiest. Using a water pitcher to rinse them off works too if you don’t have a hose attachment.
  • Towel drying is fine with our three dogs but some folks choose to blow dry their dogs. If you do this, make sure your dog isn’t terrified by the sound and keep this at a low setting.


Look for non-toxic grooming products when researching products for your animals. The category is crowded and overwhelming so hopefully, these tips will set you up for success.


In 2012, I became a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) as I wanted the knowledge and hands-on learning experiences of a CVT. However, I’m not a veterinarian! All my opinions are based on extensive research and over ten years living with dogs. You should check with your veterinarian before integrating anything new into your dog’s life or routine that I recommend in one my posts.



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